Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tiny Hiatus

I feel compelled to mention that I won't be posting again until the new year (in a few days).  I've been off duty for Christmas and return with vigor and poetry in 2011.  Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Children's Book Review: I Am A Bunny

Name of Book: I Am A Bunny
Author / Illustrator: Written by Ole Risom and Illustrated by Richard Scarry
What It's All About: A little bunny walks through the countryside in different seasons
My Favorite Bit: I love the page where it's raining.  A toadstool in the rain is magical.
Suitable Age For Reading It To:  This is a lovely length book for little ones.  The sentences are short and the pictures are vibrant and have many things going on in them.  I recommend it heartily.
Go Get It: I Am A Bunny
A Little About the Author and/or Illustrator: Ole Risom was born in Copenhagen and worked for Bonniers, a Swedish publisher, before going to New York.  After Pearl Harbor he joined the US army and served in the ski patrol among other things and was finally assigned to be a driver in Munich where he met Countess Agnes Grafin von Rechberg, whom he married.  They moved to the USA and had two sons Nicholas and Christopher and a daughter, Camilla.  He became one of the most influential publishers of mass-market books for children and was the vice president and art director of Golden Books Western Press for twenty years.  In his career he was closely associated with Richard Scarry and also worked with Dr. Seuss, Jim Henson, Stan and Jan Berenstain, Leo Lionni, and Charles Schulz.  He died in 2000 of cancer.
We've done Richard Scarry before so you can check it out here if you've forgotten.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Children's Book Review: In A People House

Name of Book: In A People House
Author / Illustrator: Written by Theo LeSieg and Illustrated by Roy McKie (HINT: Theo LeSieg is another pen name of Theodor Geisel who is, of course, Dr. Seuss--LeSieg is Geisel spelled backwards.)
What It's All About: This is a word book that is miles beyond your average word/picture recognition books that treat kids like little idiots.  This is a great book for kids and adults.  A mouse shows a bird what's in a People House and they make a mess and are thrown out, but not before they learn what everything is.
My Favorite Bit: I always had favorite pages when I was a kid.  I like the mouse brushing the bird's head in this book.  It always looked like a soft brush.  I also liked that they had white zoom marks behind them as they ran/flew through the house.
Suitable Age For Reading It To: This is a great book for little ones to hear and for older ones to read to you and/or little ones.  I love this book and it doesn't get too simple for anyone (except perhaps cynical high schoolers, but they'll come around in college). 
A Little About the Author and/or Illustrator: Theodor Giesel (Dr. Seuss/Theo LeSieg) was born in Massachusetts and raised a Lutheran.  He attended Dartmouth and began working for the humor magazine of Dartmouth, the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern.  When caught drinking gin during prohibition in his rooms, he was made to resign from all extra-curricular activities.  To be able to continue writing for the humor magazine, he began using the pen name Seuss.  His first book was And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street.  He and his wife moved to La Jolla, California, where he wrote many works that we all know and love today. He never had kids of his own and would say when asked why, "You have 'em; I'll entertain 'em."
Roy McKie illustrated most of the books Theodor Giesel penned without illustrating himself.  There is not much else I can find out about him.  Let me know if you do.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Original Tale: Saved At Sea

A storm has raged and left my ship marooned upon a reef
And I was thrown into the sea to drown without relief
How came I not to drown, dear friend, I really cannot say
For there was no one left to keep the raging sea at bay
Bewildered I now find myself upon the rocky shore
With naught to fear of sinking with my vessel any more

Written and Illustrated by R. Nigh

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Children's Book Review: Angelina's Birthday

Name of book: Angelina's Birthday
Author / Illustrator: Written by Katharine Holabird and Illustrated by Helen Craig
What's It All About: A little mouse sees a beautiful bicycle in the window of a shop in town and does chores to try and get enough money to buy it.  She works and works but doesn't get enough money to buy the bicycle.  Her family and friends surprise her with the new bicycle for her birthday.
My Favorite Bit: The illustrations in these Angelina series are simply lovely.  Helen Craig's light touch and beautiful details add so much to each scene.  I love to just look at each page until I've discovered everything about it.  My favorite page in this is all the mice on bicycles. 
Suitable Age For Reading It To: This series leans towards little girls since Angelina is a girl, but they are a good fit for most kids.  My daughter is currently transfixed, though I think these are probably best suited to a five year old and up.  I'm surprised my daughter likes the older kid themes in these.   
Go Get It: Angelina's Birthday (paperback)
 A little about the author and/or illustrator: Katharine Holabird first began publishing the Angelina series in 1983.  Holabird grew up in Chicago, attended the ballet with her Grandmother yearly, and graduated from Bennington College in Vermont with B.A. in Literature.  Find out more about her here.
Helen Craig was born in London and moved to the countryside at the outbreak of WWII.  The illustrations for the Angelina stories are based on her childhood memories of living in a country cottage with no electricity.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Original Tale: Henry and His Umbrella

Henry's red umbrella keeps the sun away
Henry likes to sit and sit and dream of sun all day
Henry doesn't think he'll mind if rain starts raining soon
For Henry's red umbrella keeps them both from Henry's head till noon

Written and Illustrated by R. Nigh

Friday, December 10, 2010

Children's Book Review: The Garden Of Abdul Gasazi

Name of book: The Garden of Abdul Gasazi
Author  / Illustrator: Written and Illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg
What's It All About: A boy's dog runs away into a mysterious garden and the boy goes after him.  But the garden belongs to a mysterious man who claims to be a magician. 
My Favorite Bit: This book is Van Allsburg at his best.  The drawings are simply lovely and I want to walk through the gardens (minus the magician).  I love Van Allsburg's illustration style.  It's chunky and rounded but very detailed with subtle color. 
Suitable Age For Reading It To: This one's for the older kids.  My daughter (3) will sit through it, but it's built for my 8 year old.  The language and style is a little more sophisticated, but everyone will enjoy it.  This is a must for any children's library.
Go Get It: The Garden Of Abdul Gasazi
A little about the Author and/or Illustrator:  Chris Van Allsburg studied art at the University of Michigan.  He was a sculptor primarily, but his wife Lisa, an elementary school art teacher, encouraged him in his drawing and showed his drawings to a friend at Houghton Mifflin.  Van Allsburg stopped sculpting long enough to create the story that became The Garden of Abdul Gasazi. He has written and illustrated 15 other books, including The Polar Express and Jumanji.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Original Tale: Fly From Here

O little sparrow fly from here
The summers' passed away
The leaves have fallen, snow is here
It soon is Christmas day

Aye, litle bird the sun still shines
But night is cold and long
Find somewhere where the leaves are green
To sing your pretty song

Written and Illustrated by R. Nigh

Monday, December 6, 2010

Children's Book Review: The Boy With A Drum


Name of book: The Boy With The Drum
Author  / Illustrator:  Written by David L. Harrison and Illustrated by Eloise Wilkin
What's It All About: A little boy with a drum walks through the countryside and all the animals that hear him leave what they're doing and follow along
My Favorite Bit: I just really love the style of the poetry in this story as well as Wilkin's illustrations.  I think I love the frog and the cow the best. 
Suitable Age For Reading It To: This is best for small children but all ages will love it.  It is just the right length for a bedtime story. 
Go Get It: The Boy With The Drum (This book is hard to find on Amazon at a reasonable price but they're out there. 
A little about the Author and/or Illustrator: Author David L. Harrison's first book is the above.  It was released in 1969 and eventually sold over two million copies.  Harrison has published over seventy original stories.   You can find out more about him here. Eloise Wilkin wrote, illustrated, and designed dolls for over fifty years.  She illustrated over twenty books with her sister Esther, who also married a Wilkin.  Over her career she worked almost exclusively with Little Golden Books until 1961.  She passed away in 1987.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Original Tale: Faeries In The Woods

In the middle of the forest I came upon a little house
Could it be for a squirrel or a furry brown mouse?
But a shimmer on the leaves and a sparkle in the air
Made it seem as if the faeries made their little home there
I laid down in the grass to see inside the front door
But I didn't see anyone who lived there anymore
As I turned to leave I thought I heard a little laugh
And a stream of little sparkles fell across the forest path
I may not see a faery but I'd meet one if I could
For now I've seen a faery house while walking in the woods

Written and Illustrated by R. Nigh

Friday, December 3, 2010

Children's Book Review: Bears In The Night

Name of book: Bears In The Night
Author  / Illustrator: Stan and Jan Berenstain
What's It All About: Little bears get up after bed to find out what's making a spooky sound through the woods. 
My Favorite Bit: I love the page where they've gone through the woods and are now heading: Up Spook Hill.  The reason I love it is my three year old daughter has memorized this book and pauses after each word for this page.  It tickles me pink.  Also I think I love it because she could memorize it and "read" it to me.  Each page has the repetition from the last of where the bears have been, reinforced by the drawing on each page.  That way kids can see what's new and where the bears have been and where they are going.  Brilliant!
Suitable Age For Reading It To: This is an easy read and better suited to small ones but if your kids have grown up with Berenstain Bears than they won't mind hearing this one again.  And, since the Berenstain Bears have lots of great books for older readers, you can simply point them on.
Go Get It: Bears In The Night (Paperback early reader)
A little about the Author and/or Illustrator: Stan and Jan Berenstain met in art school in Philadelphia and were married shortly before Stan returned from serving in WWII.  They loved to draw together and were a regular corner of the Saturday Evening Post and Collier's before beginning their own stories together.  Mike Berenstain, their son, also has become an illustrator and works with Jan Berenstain (Stan Berenstain passed away in 2005).

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Children's Book Review: Cars And Trucks And Things That Go

Name of book: Cars And Trucks And Things That Go
Author  / Illustrator: By Richard Scarry
What's It All About: Richard Scarry mostly does books in this unique style where you are learning about what things do and people's jobs and all sorts of little pieces of information.  There are a few stories in here but the main thing is what things that go do.   
My Favorite Bit: I think we all know what's coming.  If you own this book you know that Scarry put a little character called Goldbug on every page.  He's a little yellow bug and sometimes he's hard to find.  As adults I think we appreciate looking for him because we don't have to necessarily read all the little captions every page (there are a lot!)  Plus, everyone likes looking for Goldbug.  Besides that, there are always so many silly things to see on each page like funny shaped cars and the rascally Dingo dog that drives too fast and has to be caught by Officer Flossy.
Suitable Age For Reading It To: At different levels this book is great for all.  Little ones will laugh at the silly cars and look for Goldbug, older children will love the stories and what all the vehicles do.  These are just great books.
Go Get It: Cars And Trucks And Things That Go (paperback version but the hardback is worth it, too)
A little about the Author and/or Illustrator:
Richard Scarry (rhymes with hairy) was born in Boston, Massachusetts and has written over 300 books totalling over a billion printed world-wide.  His most popular series was the Busytown series (of which the above is a part).  He passed away from a heart attack in 1994 at the age of 74.